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Preliminary Report On Corporate 'Giving'

30 March 2005 at 1:03 pm
Staff Reporter
The Federal Government has released preliminary findings of research into the nation's philanthropy, Giving Australia: Research on Philanthropy in Australia highlighting some key markers on corporate and personal giving.

Staff Reporter | 30 March 2005 at 1:03 pm


Preliminary Report On Corporate 'Giving'
30 March 2005 at 1:03 pm

Preliminary Report On Corporate ‘Giving’

The Federal Government has released preliminary findings of research into the nation’s philanthropy, Giving Australia: Research on Philanthropy in Australia highlighting some key markers on corporate and personal giving.

The new research shows there is a strong expectation by businesses in rural and urban Australia that they should support their community .

Through the qualitative research process, business generally provided some critical insights into dealing with Not for Profits and developing relationships.

As well the findings reveal that the public is experiencing ‘giving stress’ and dissatisfaction with ‘pushy’ charities.

The early findings from this project, initiated by the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership include:

– Early life experience important for giving. Early experiences in
giving, especially in the family and at school are important in shaping an adult’s giving behaviour.

– Trust is important and may be declining. Trust in the charity or
Not for Profit sector for potential donors was highlighted as being important: trust that the money is going where charities say it is and trust that money will not be wasted on what is considered unnecessary expenses.

– ‘Giving stress’: requests for giving cannot always be met. Givers
are feeling overwhelmed with the number of organisations asking for their money and they feel bad that they cannot support them all.

– Givers don’t like aggressive marketing. Givers are feeling intruded upon
by non-government organisations: they all detest what they perceive to be aggressive and pushy attempts to get donations.

– Spontaneous and convenient giving preferred over planned giving.
Givers want to give ‘from the heart’ when touched by a story or experience: planned giving removes their capacity to respond.

Some of the key preliminary findings from qualitative research among business are:

– Businesses do expect they will support the community. There is a strong expectation by both regional and metropolitan participants that businesses would support community organisations to the extent that they could. ‘You are expected to support the community.’

– Businesses ‘inundated’ with requests for help. The overwhelming sense by businesses that, while they were interested genuinely in helping community organisations, they were being inundated with written requests and telephone calls, and they were having trouble managing these. This was one of the strongest themes to emerge across the discussions, giving strength to calls for ‘best practice’ guidelines for corporate giving and for fewer ‘cold
calls’ by Not for Profits.

– Business support often lacks infrastructure and ‘vision’. Those struggling most with the dilemma of continuing requests and limited capacity to respond were larger SMEs (mid-size businesses). Like smaller organisations, many (but not all) of these lacked a vision for their community involvement. Few had policies or infrastructure to manage the process but, like major ones, they received many requests from many directions. They were working on an ‘ad hoc’ basis and ‘looking for a more strategic approach’.

– Priorities and motivations vary. Business approaches to giving were very
individualistic: there were few reference points for small and mid-size
businesses, in particular. ‘We do what is reasonable.’ There was wide
variability in the extent to which business supports charities, the motivation
for doing so, and the extent to which they had policies in place, although
business participants canvassed to date were quite uniform in their stated
interest in making a contribution.

– Not for Profits should be more transparent and accountable. Businesses wanted NFP’s to be more accountable and transparent for funds received: there had been an erosion of trust held by business (especially large SMEs) that money given would be used for its stated purpose. The question was ‘Will it get through?’ Many participants also believed that this loss of confidence affected the broader community and pulled back the amount people were willing to donate.

– Understanding that Not for Profits need to cover infrastructure costs. On reflection of the issue, there was no objection to funding Not for Profit
infrastructure as long as it was clear ‘up front’ how the money would be
spent and a compelling case was made. ‘As business people, we understand
the need for infrastructure.’

– Not for Profits should give relevant feedback. Many businesses wanted to know their contributions made a difference yet they reported little feedback
from NFPs. Businesses varied in what type and how much contact they
wanted: Not for Profits need to ask. For larger organisations, it was a pro-active attitude of ‘how can we improve things?’ For smaller ones, it was ‘let’s do our bit …to the extent we can.’

– Volunteering significant. There is a lot of personal volunteering by CEOs,
owners, partners and directors of businesses, mainly on charitable or
Not for Profit boards. Those in regional areas tend to be active in service organisations. While these activities were not ‘top of mind’ and tended to be
overlooked by them, for participants when asked about giving, they were
substantial and generally encouraged by business.

– Regional businesses like local causes. Overall, the main theme to emerge for regional businesses was the importance of ‘the local’ to them. As might be expected, there was a far stronger sense of, and importance attached to, belonging to a particular community and of supporting this community by those in regional towns than in metropolitan areas.

The research was conducted between August and December 2004 and represents about half of the total number of focus groups and interviews to be conducted through the project.

The research is being conducted by the PRDC – a consortium comprising the Australian Council of Social Service (the lead agency); Queensland University of Technology – Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies; University of Technology Sydney – Centre for Australian Community Organisations and Management; Roy Morgan Research; McNair Ingenuity Research Pty Ltd; and the Australian Fundraising Institute.

If you would like an electronic version of the preliminary report in PDF format just send us an email with the words ‘Giving Australia Preliminary Report’ in the subject line to

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